compliments – a Public Service Announcement

A compliment is expressing to someone either verbally, or perhaps with a cheeky smile or mutual eye-rolls, your appreciation of and the value you attribute to a gift, skill or action of theirs. “You read that beautifully.” “You look totally hot.” “You are awesome at PowerPoint presentations.” This is the good kind of compliment.

A back-handed compliment is expressing to someone either verbally, or perhaps with a questioning eyebrow, slight sneer of contempt or fake smile, your positive interpretation of a gift, skill or action of theirs in a way that draws attention to your perception of their lack, negatives or disadvantage. Often begin with or contain a hidden ‘but’. Eg, “You’re so lucky to be a woman your size, you can wear heaps of accessories!” “I’ve never seen you remain so calm before!” or “but you have a great personality”. If your compliment has a but in it, it’s no longer a compliment.

A bompliment is expressing to someone either verbally, or perhaps with a self-congratulating leer, your appreciation of and value you attribute to a gift, skill or action of theirs in a way that draws attention to your contribution to their excellence. “Well done, you learnt all that from me, I can tell.” “Even though I should have won that, I’m glad you did rather than that other person, because I should have.” If you end the giving of a compliment feeling happy about yourself, but the other person looks a little crushed, you’ve probably bomplimented them, you weirdly self-obsessed/insecure/normal human person.

The best way to ruin a compliment is not to give it at all. Just ponder to yourself the nice thing that person has done or said, or the great way they think, or the way how they’ve done their hair reminds you of the glory of God, or how you’re so bloody relieved they’re there because they will understand why you want to crawl out of your skin. Just think of it, smile, and let them go to their grave not knowing you loved them.

Now imagine this was read by Morgan Freeman and you’ll get the general idea I’m going for.

This PSA supported by the Public Committee for the Promotion of all Five (million) Love Languages.

And just quietly, I’m not actually one for verbal compliments, I find them embarrassing. But I’m trying to learn to accept them graciously. Apparently not every single thing I do is wrong, or at best, sub-standard.

NB: originally posted by me on another blog, billy and i.

PS: a friend pointed out during the week another noxious form of compliment which deserves attention – the sexist “compliment”. Ie, a senior doctor to a trainee doctor who has just done a kick ass cardio examination “you’ll be a great doctor; you’ve got such a pretty smile.” Yah. Thanks.

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